Life in the fast lane
BY STEPHANIE E. PONDER
YOU CAN’T slow Charlie Kimball down.
In his early ;;s, the Costco member
became the ;rst licensed IndyCar driver
with Type ; diabetes. When he’s not on the
track, Kimball often talks with children
who also have Type ; diabetes, serving as a
spokesperson for not letting the disease
get in the way of following one’s dreams.
When The Connection spoke with him
via phone from “the middle of a racetrack
in Fort Worth, Texas,” he talked about his
diagnosis, his career and how he balances
THE COSTCO CONNECTION: Did you
always want to be a race car driver?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I did. My dad’s an
engineer and designs race cars, so I always
watched races on TV as a kid. [I] started
racing go-karts at the age of ; as a way for
[the two of us] to spend some time together
on the weekends.
CC: What happened after you were
accepted to Stanford?
CK: I asked Stanford for a two-year deferral, and they gave me two years o;. I moved
to Europe to race cars and pursue my
dream of being a professional.
Then, in ;;;;, I hit a bit of a speed
bump. I went to my doctor’s o;ce with a
skin rash on my arm, and he asked if there
was anything else going on in my health.
Being ;; and ;; feet tall and bulletproof, I
said no. [I did] mention that I was drinking eight, ;;, ;; bottles of water a night.
And when he had me jump on the scale, in
just ;ve days I’d lost ;; pounds. He said, “I
want to do some more tests, but I think you
CC: How long did it take you to realize
that you didn’t have to give up your
CK: It started in the endocrinologist’s
o;ce, the day I was diagnosed. I asked him
if I’d ever get back in a race car. He looked
me square in the eye and said, “I don’t see
any reason why not. There are incredible
people doing amazing things with diabetes
all over the world. You may have to change
how you go about it, but it shouldn’t get in
the way of living your dream.”
Being the son of an engineer, and
being very mechanically and linear-
minded myself, [I applied] the same
methodical routine that I apply to my rac-
ing to my diabetes management. That’s
when I started with the continuous glucose
monitor … on my body. It transmits to a
display that plugs into the car’s data sys-
tem. So on my steering wheel, I have speed,
lap time, oil pressure, blood sugar, water
temperature—my car and body data right
My engineer and I work together to
make sure the car is as competitive as pos-
sible. I spend that same e;ort working on
my body to make sure that I’m as competi-
tive as possible.
CC: What other adaptations were made to
CK: It’s not uncommon to lose ;ve or ;;
pounds through sweat. [At the Indy ;;;] it
could be a hot Sunday, and you’re wearing
a three-layer ;reproof suit for three and a
half hours [while] holding onto ;;; horses
without power steering or power brakes.
So most drivers have a drink bottle for
hydration. I actually have two drink bottles—one of water, so I can stay hydrated,
and the second one is ;lled with orange
juice with extra sugar in it.
Those two bottles come together at a
valve that my dad designed and we got
;D-printed. It mounts right on my seat belt
and the tube runs right into my helmet.
CC: Is there anything you wish people
knew about managing diabetes while
CK: If you’ll pardon the pun here: Overcoming the challenge of diabetes and still
being able to do what I love makes it that
much sweeter. Racing gives me motivation
to manage my diabetes, and having diabetes gives me the motivation to be successful on the track. C
FOR YOUR HEALTH
Charlie Kimball, the ;rst licensed driver with diabetes in
the history of IndyCar, drives for the Carlin racing team.
Your Costco pharmacist can help with any
questions about Type 1 diabetes, and prescriptions can be ;lled at Costco pharmacies.
won’t let diabetes
get him off track